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To say I haven’t blogged in a while is an understatement. I always tell myself I will, but to be honest I just spend a lot of time fighting to myself about it.

Me: Blogging is dead.

Also me: But information is needed and instagram is neither searchable or a place for words.

Me: But less people read and it takes so much effort.

Also me: If you’re doing it for the likes you’re wrong to begin with.

 

But I discovered a lot of other activities to do with my free time. OR to be honest I could either write this article or refresh twitter 20 times.

I had convinced myself reporting about fashion on twitter is good. You get instant feedback and there hasn’t been a lot to talk about. I love twitter.

So it took a lot to convince me to get out of my hibernation and write this. And my statement is: ALL FASHION BLOGS LIE. ALL JAPANESE FASHION BLOGS LIE.

Including mine.

I spent a lot of breath twisting the facts about the death of gyaru when it happened just the same. Whether my points or the other points people made. Whichever news or fake news, it happened. Sure some aspects of gyaru are still around. Oneegyaru is popping. Rady sells well. Aizawa Emiri is doing well with her brand. Time goes by and yet hostesses and kyaba still want to look cute on their off days. This won’t change.

So there’s me. Mea culpa.

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The blandness of Meiji-dori

 

But something that has gotten under my craw for years after living in Japan off and on for years is that we’ve been fed lies. Five kids sitting on a street that is known in Japan more for its Kiddy Land, wide lanes and expensive cars parking for Chanel and lunch doesn’t equal fashion. It equals what a photographer or that KID wants to be fashion. So many fashion styles happen around it, but our view has been narrowed.

So many of us grew up with FRUiTS magazine and its somewhat death. But was Harajuku ever FRUiTS? The answer is yes but mostly no. Harajuku is a lot of highschoolers in their uniforms buying small accessories at Claires and other cheap shops. And Harajuku is 20 hairdresser shops and 20 nail salons. Harajuku is as much the Starbucks as it is the famous crepe shops. Harajuku is 50% tourists buying into the hype or what Harajuku was and somewhat is.

AND HARAJUKU IS NOT TOKYO. AND TOKYO ISN’T ALL OF JAPAN. It’s a tiny peephole into a room that barely shows any of what drives fashion in Japan.

AND HARAJUKU IS NOT EVEN HARAJUKU ANYMORE.

As Harajuku has gained in popularity its driven a lot of fashion towards Shimokitazawa and Koenji. This is not a new phenomenon in Japan. 10 years ago it happened with otaku culture and many Akihabara fans moving to Nakano and Akihabara getting oddly commercialized.

And yet again Harajuku was not ever Harajuku. A lot of fashionable people who went to Harajuku did it for the early instagram. To get in FRUiTS. Which the founder of FRUiTS, Shichi Aoki, has admitted that he only took photos of what inspired him. Is that all of Harajuku or even 10% or much less 2%? No.

FRUiTS missed out on gyaru fashion. It cared occasionally for ganguro but that was it. Not because it wasn’t in Harajuku. Gyaru have always been in Harajuku. Shibuya and Harajuku are bound together by one street and it takes only a 15 minute walk (maybe 20 minute in gyaru heels) to get there. There’s nothing in between except for some sports stores and hair salons. Harajuku and Shibuya fashions appear in each other naturally. But it wasn’t what FRUiTS wanted, so it was mostly ignored. One of the largest original Japanese fashion booms that lasted.

And currently many fashion snaps are ignoring Larme fashion despite it being popular in Japan. I would argue that Larme comes off as more Japanese than some other popular fashions because of its roots.

 

Broad Harajuku shops are made up of five types:

  • LaForet mall which holds a variety of clothing from Joyrich to Larme to Lolita
  • The row of shops down Takeshita that holds knockoffs, accessories, resale shops, Liz Lisa, and a few outlandish shops
  • UraHara and Cat Street that has spawned Bape and contains Jackrose and other former GyaruO brands along with LilLilly and Honey mi Honey type brands.
  • The big box shops of H&M, Monki and Forever21 wanting prestige in a place that was not meant for them.
  • Slightly past that there is Omotesando which is its own culture and has high brand stores and overseas brands like Acne Studios and Alexander Wang

 

There’s a lot of styles smushed together in Harajuku. If you’re not photographing them all, you’re not discussing the region.

And this isn’t just a FRUiTS problem. It’s a reporter problem.

 

Let’s make it akin to a museum. A museum curator decides what’s inside those walls. But does that determine what is art? NO! But for fashion especially Japanese fashion that’s happened.

Many of the other fashion snap blogs have used mostly hired models. I think it’s mostly lazy. But to be honest a lot of seasons in Japan are not very bearable and waiting hours and days for something to appear isn’t easy or fun.

Or magazines have calls out to where they will be shooting. That’s more organic, but they get to edit and choose. On the spectrum of offenders most magazines are lower.

 

The reason I shout out FRUiTS a lot is because they have been the blueprint of street fashion in Japan, for better or for worse. BUT all Japanese fashion blogs lie. But why do they lie? What’s their goal? What agenda? What are they trying to sell or curate?

Maybe the better question is why are they ignoring what they do when they shoot or talk about something else?

 

My interest is gyaru fashion and broader Larme, seiso and otona kawaii brands. If you walk into a big mall like Shinjuku Lumine EST or Shibuya 109 or Shinsaibashi OPA chances are I’ll talk about those brands because that’s what I choose to do. You won’t see me talk about lolita or many adult brands not because it doesn’t exist or there aren’t shops selling. It’s just not my interest.

So there are my biases. Laid out.

 

But what about other blogs biases? If they call themselves something like Japanese Streets or Fashion Snap or Tokyo Fashion are they showing it?

All Japanese Fashion blogs lie, but are they telling you? Are they trying to force their vision on you? The answer increasingly has been YES. And it’s lies and fake news.

 

 

 

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I occasionally scan YahooNews Japan (the google of Japan) for gyaru items and I stumbled across this AbemaTV program about Gyaru technology.

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It starts off with a reporter searching out interesting stories in Shibuya. In a completely non-scripted non-planned way (sarcasm)

The reporter’s reaction is “uhhhh what’s this?”

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They stumbled across two gyaru that call themselves “Gyaruden (ギャル電)” = Electric Gal.

Their names are Mao-san (pink hair) and Kyouko-san (grey hair). And say “ギャルによるギャルのためのテクノロジー” Because we are gyaru we make technology for gyaru. But really this story goes deeper than that and involves two interesting gyaru so let’s get into it!

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They started making flashy (pun intended) six months ago. And they do it for the “party people” (パリピ paripi some gyaru slang for you)

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The reporter then goes to visit their workspace where they make their Gyaru-den accessories.

It’s located in a place called Rainbow Souko (レインボー倉庫 site) which is a chain of coffee shops and workspace collectives. Their space is at Rainbow Souko 2 (here’s a map of how its laid out).

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Mao in fab deco glasses at work building a LED lightup earring.

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Like the one she’s wearing.

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Predictably the reporter gets a gyaru makeover and learns to construct her own LED earrings.

Then she sits down and asks about the girls lives. Kyouko-san says she hasn’t really had any schooling instead she’s learned on the streets. And the reporter is like “Oh you’re self taught” and Kyouko goes “Ohhhh you can say that”. Her current profession is pole dancer (usually pole dancers in Japan work as gogo dancers in clubs and keep their tops on. Judgement free either way just an FYI).

Mao-san says she is a college student at a trade school learning about electrical construction. But she says she wants to keep her own style doing it.

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The reporter asks why did they get into this?

Kyouko says “The Singularity”.

Which is some deep stuff.

Let’s let wiki take care of this:

The technological singularity (also, simply, the singularity)[1] is the hypothesis that the invention of artificial superintelligence will abruptly trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization.

Yup. Lots to take in there.

Either way they’re doing some cool original stuff. Check out their twitter: https://twitter.com/galden999

Here’s the static news story on Abema times about the Gyaruden group (here) and official Youtube video (here) and they also got to be in a Nike Japan commercial (here).

I think it’s a new way to look at being flashy in a style that’s definitely toned down.

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I’ve stayed loyal to my Avarice nail salon in Harajuku (previous posts) for several years now for Japanese gel nail art. Their work continues to amaze me and no matter what I come with they’re up to the task. NOW they have an English speaking nail artist who did a working holiday in Australia. She’s lovely and loves to chat in english. So I super recommend Avarice even more to my readers! Just remember if booking on hotpeper to mention English.

1950s Cinderella Gel Nails

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Disney’s Cinderella nails! I wanted these to be pretty simple but still have that great gel nail art. The art is based on the original 1950 animated feature. I’ve become a big Disney nerd and the classic styles of Disney are my favorite. Simple with a few details: Cinderella herself, her slipper and a hint of the pumpkin carriage.

Chanel Paris-Dallas collection Gel Nails

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My nails had gotten so short! But that’s no problem for Avarice Harajuku superb gel nail art everytime! This time I wanted the theme of the Chanel Paris-Dallas collection. Being a Texan I’ve always wanted a Texas flag or shape on my nails. Even though I’m anti-gun I’ve oddly also wanted gun nails. The Coco Chanel portrait was based on the flyers they handed out for the Paris-Dallas collection.

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Pretty close right?

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The gun was a 90s part of a belt. I liked it better than the Paris-Dallas gun jewelry so in it went.

Chanel Spring Vintage Nails

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 Mad Max: Fury Road Gel Nails

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I GOT MAD MAX NAILS!!! Mad Max: Fury Road is my favorite movie of the last few years. I knew when I had the chance I would try to make Mad Max nails happen.

My nailist hadn’t watched the movie, so showing her photos she gave me the look that said: why do you want this on your nails? It’s totally unkawaii. Then I played her the Japanese trailer and that did not win her over either. And then I tried to explain the movie in Japanese, which was a complete failure. Trying to explain it in English just ends up with me yelling WAR GUITAR!! or FURIOSA!! and then slipping into happy fangirl goo.

Then she got to it… and asked if it’s okay if I make them more “manga” and they won’t look exactly like them. I was like my expectations are low, I just need to fangirl more.

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BUT CHECK THEM OUT! OMG! War Boy! Furiosa! Mad Max!

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Furiosa was like my Mona Lisa nail. No matter the light she’s always staring at me.

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Mad Max and Furiosa! Avarice gel nail art wins all the awards.

My hands were super dry. I had just landed in Japan. My hands go horrible on the flight and stay bad in Japan. The air and public restroom soaps just kill my hands. Hand lotion is your friend in Japan. I actually discovered my favorite hand lotion for traveling is MUAC AHA Hand and Body lotion. I was given a sample and it just takes care of dry spots immediately because of its alpha hydroxy acids. It doesn’t provide the lovely scents of other hand lotions, but overnight total change in dryness!

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In the past years I’ve been down on Tokyo sakura viewing. I mean when you can have a gorgeous castles in the background, see sakura on a mountaintop viewing regular sakura seems a bit boring? My mind really changed about how pretty Tokyo sakura viewing can be last year. One of my favorite spots was Nakameguro (中目黒). Nakameguro is famous as a destination for sakura because of its beautiful Meguro river that flows through it. The sakura drip over and its truly a gorgeous sight.

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The quintessential Nakameguro Sakura View (TM) and people free!

 

Nakameguro is a sought out place to live in Tokyo because of its hip but laid back vibe. It’s right next to fancy Daikanyama but not as expensive, so a lot of younger people live in the area.

Reasons I like Nakameguro Sakura:

Because it’s a river walkway you may be put off by the concrete of it all and lack of proper Tokyo sakura hanami viewing space, but these two things put off people so it’s much less crowded than places like Ueno Park, Yoyogi Park and Inokashira Park that get tons of drunk rowdy people. And it serves alcohol and lots of places to eat unlike Shinjuku Park. It’s also free unlike Shinjuku Park. If you can get a bench along the river it’s easy to spend several hours gazing and chatting.

 

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Sakura suits the river so well. I do think the Tottori river sakura are more beautiful but for central Tokyo sakura these are hard to beat. I headed out with Nicola and Linda.

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During a weekday the crowds are manageable and we were able to snag seats.

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The sakura do really cover all of Meguro river. Because of the shade and temperature differences theres a wide range when you can see sakura on just this one walkway.

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When we finally got seats this was our view. Pretty special right? The river really makes the crowds feel not so crowded. You can see one of the food trucks parked across the river. There were lots of tasty food options.

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The strawberry champagne was a big seller.

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We also got a bottle of pink sparkling wine to celebrate the season. Instagram worthy!

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Bonus! This super cute poodle we saw while enjoying an impromptu hanami.

 

Visiting Nakameguro for Sakura viewing:

Sakura season is finicky but even with buds or falling off the Nakameguro Matsuri is lovely to see. They do a light up as well for those seeking out a sakura light-up. It’s also an easy walk if you just want to put in an hour to view but not the whole day.

Nakameguro Station is a small station that can get super crowded during sakura season it’s on Tokyo Metro Hibiya and Tokyu Toyoko lines easily accessible through Shibuya. If you’re going at night or during the weekends I suggest getting off at Daikanyama Station of the Tokyu Toyoko Line (8 minute walk) or Ebisu Station on the Yamanote Line (14 minute walk) and walking to Nakameguro both of which are nice walks. Daikanyama has tons of cafes and cute food options in case Nakameguro gets too busy.

 

 

My first Sakura post of the year! I have more planned. I really got to enjoy sakura last year and I unfortunately can’t visit this year so hopefully posts on the blog turning pink will cheer up.  :hearts3:

 

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